CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — During the past two years that Jodi King has been working in Children and Adult Ministries at Hilldale United Methodist Church, she has had on her mind and in her heart the desire to address the serious issue of bullying. Although currently a popular topic, bullying can be traced to the oldest books of the bible.
The impact bullying is having on today’s children and youth is frightening. There are now numerous instances where victims of bullying have chosen to escape it through suicide rather than live another day being bullied, harassed and terrorized.
Hilldale UMC has a program called “Youth in Training.” King’s involvement with the children in this program was both eye-opening and upsetting. “Children in the class told of instances where they had been bullied or they had witnessed bullying. As one broke the silence of what happened to him or her, another child would speak up,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do something, but it took time for me to decide what to do and how to make it happen.”
On Saturday, Aug. 24, King’s desire to help in the battle against bullying becomes reality when she and the people of Hilldale United Methodist Church host the first “Back to School Bully Bustin’ Bash.” It will be an afternoon of teaching and learning sessions about bullying, as well as activities for those in attendance, and highlighted by 12-year-old musical guest Bailey Dozier. The event is open to third through sixth graders and is from 1 to 4 p.m.
King explained, “We know from research that bullying now starts earlier in the lives of children. It is not something that suddenly occurs in the middle and high school years. We need to begin earlier in educating our children to the signs and dangers of bullying.”
Partnering with Hilldale UMC on the upcoming Bully Bustin’ Bash are Centerstone, Dowdy Wealth Services and Chick-Fil-A.
A special part of the afternoon event will be a singing performance by Bailey Dozier from Brentwood. She has firsthand experience of being bullied, beginning at age nine.
Bailey had already begun singing publicly. Some girls in her class started bullying her because Bailey was making news as a child singer. They spread lies about her and harassed her on a regular basis. One day, a boy in her class hit her in the chest with his fist.
Bailey’s notoriety and being new at her school was becoming a nightmare. It was something no 9-year-old child should have to endure. It even progressed to where some of her friends began to be bullied just because they were her friends.
Since that time, Bailey has become a spokesperson for anti-bullying. Her concerts consist of many anti-bullying songs promoting self-esteem, self-confidence and not shrinking from bullying experiences. A personal family theme of hers’ is ELE – Everybody Loves Everybody.
In her professional career, her signature performance is her BBT video. “BBT stands for ‘Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Totally You,’ and it is my way of telling kids to have confidence in who you are and what you do,” she said. “Kids should be able to be who they want to be and not be afraid of others.”
Jodi King added to Bailey’s belief. “Bullying is not a right of passage for children. Just because someone has different interests or may have different beliefs, they should be left alone.”
Bailey loves performing and interacting with others. She performs at middle schools throughout middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky, and she recently performed at Ft. Campbell. “I am the same age as many of the children, so I can relate to them. I also know what it is like to be picked on and bullied. No one should have to go through that.”
Centerstone will have three instructional stations set up. One will be called “Can’t Take It Back” and will deal with impulse control. The second station is “What can I do?” and will cover the topics of feeling safe, reporting bullying and the power of being a bystander. The last station will consist of a short video and a question and answer session.
There is no charge to attend, but everyone is asked to bring a food item for the FUEL program. Refreshments will be available.